That’s why I want to look at a third aspect of platform-building: Public Speaking.
I’m not naive enough to think that everyone wants to hear me speak, but I DO pay enough attention to agents/editors to realize that any public speaking background is better than none when it comes to signing an author/book. For that reason, it’s something I want to delve into in 2010…but how?
There are a few areas on which I’m focusing. Please feel free to chime in with any other questions (and especially if you have some hints!).
1) WHERE: Where can a pre-pubbed novelist speak? Who would want to hear it? I’ve struggled with that, so I’ve started, instead, to focus on what I CAN speak about:
a. Following a dream and making it happen – while I don’t have any books published, last year was my first full-year freelancing part-time…I had 43 articles published! I can talk to rotary clubs, church groups, etc. about the time and determination it takes to do something like this.
b. Style/Technique – I’ve been subbing in local schools for four years now. I’ve made some great connections with teachers and librarians. I can read my short stories to younger kids, discuss creative writing with older kids, and maybe even tell high schoolers about the type of work I do as a freelance writer.
c. Listening to God – I started writing after I had quit a full-time job and my husband had been diagnosed with cancer. It made sense to go ask for my job back, but that’s not where God was leading me. Instead, my husband had two surgeries and chemo while I subbed and learned how to write. Not only have we paid off all of our debt, but we just bought a house. I can definitely share that at churches and with other Christian groups.
2) WHAT: Now that I have an idea of where I can promote myself, I need to figure out what exactly to say. And I need to practice it. My plan is to start writing up speeches and practicing them at home. Beyond that, I’m stuck.
3) HOW: I recently had the privilege of meeting and working with author Nancy Vogl when she did presentations at some of the local schools. As I interviewed her she shared how she got her foot in the door of local establishments – she went to each school personally! Nancy took the time to meet librarians and teachers so she could form a personal connection with them, and that made the difference.
After I have a rough idea of what I’d like to say to different church, school, and volunteer groups, I need to go out and meet them! I need to take the time to introduce myself and what I have to offer. It’ll be good practice – if I’m too shy to shake a hand, I’ll never make it as a public speaker.
But this leads me to my final point…
4) TOOLS: I need to figure out what tools I need. Some that I know of already are:
a. A price list – YIKES! How much is my time/knowledge worth? I have to figure that out.
b. Visual aids – I don’t care how old the audience is, everyone responds well to visual aids. What can I use?
c. Promotional tools – Professional looking fliers for each speaking theme.
5) ANYTHING ELSE??
What else do I need? Is there anything else I should consider? What did YOU do to start your speaking career?